Monday, November 26, 2007

HiFi 04 : Sansui AU-317 MkII

I bought this Sansui AU-317 MkII integrated amplifier in 1978. If I recall it was about ukp400.00; about the price of a good example on eBay today.

The Sansui is very nicely built - virtually aircraft standard - and to me sounds great.

A useful feature is that the preamplifier and the amplifier can be separated. They are linked via a set of RCA connects on the back. It also has a phono-stage for connection to a record turntable and a sub-phono filter feature. This is necessary because the amp's frequency response runs down to dc and the filter stops your bass speakers transporting in and out with the warps on your lp records.

It can drive two sets of speakers either separately or together which I hope will enable me to have a play with bi-wiring at some point.

The problem I have here is that my particular amplifier was made for the European market. It has a voltage selector on the back, but this switches between 220v/240v @50Hz - rather a fine distinction.

Fortunately, I found this device, the Quick 220, which in practice supplies about 235v@60Hz. The amp seems to run well on this and so far, I haven't found the 60Hz supply to be a problem. I anticipated some extra heat, but this doesn't seem apparent.

There are some snags with the amp, mostly of a consequence of the time it was built. The RCA plugs are not gold-plated, appearing to be made of nickel-silver which has dulled over the years. But they're clean and otherwise uncorroded and I can't detect any performance issues as a result.

More seriously, the speaker terminals are of the quick-fit variety rather than nice stud-type terminals. However, if you take care over the insertion of the speaker cables, it doesn't appear to be a problem.

Lastly, I managed to find the amplifier's product manual in .pdf format and now available here. It also includes details of the AU-117 and AU-217 amps.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

WiFi 01 : Noxon iRadio

I remember when I was a lad ... Eeeeeee ... you were lucky, mate!!!

Under the bed-clothes with a short-wave radio listening to the cqs from around the globe. I wasn't nearly as keen as some of my friends who had qsl cards printed and sent them off around the world and in turn received cards from scores of exotic locations.

Well, in a way internet radio lets you do this too. And the Noxon iRadio has turned out to be one of the best gadgets I have ever had the fortune to have used with a computer. Well, I say computer, but actually all the iRadio requires is an internet connection. In my case, a wifi connection. It really doesn't need a computer at all!

Now, I have no idea if the iRadio is the best ever device in this genre. There may well be better devices. There are certainly more specialised devices such as the SqueezeBox which is more of a HiFi device and which may well fit into my future plans.

But it is actually quite hard to find this type of device in the USA. They do exist, but are around double the price at least. Certainly nothing in this price range!!!

Maybe the encroachment of satellite radio here mitigates against it, but you can't help wondering if a device which enables you to connect to virtually anything that interests you for free compared to a satellite subscription, might meet some resistance in the US retail market.

Anyway, my iRadio enables me to listen to maybe around 6000 radio stations around the world, many of them in quality stereo.

I just need to give a plug for BBC 5Live International, SomaFM and Lounge-Radio in particular. And just to say it is also great for listening to podcasts, especially Mark Kermode's film reviews.

But the radio connection is just one aspect of the iRadio's talents. Next WiFi articles will explain how to stream your music collection over your domestic wifi network and how to us the iRadio with a music server.

*See my hifi / media index here.

What A Week To Give Up Smoking ...

So there we are ... Plymouth Argyle tootling along nicely in The Championship. A useful team. Engaging fans. A committed manager ...

Committed manager ... Oops!!! Oh well.

I'm not blaming Ian Holloway for taking a new job where he's probably being paid twice as much, but he should be really careful about swearing undying love with team and town just days before resigning.

Anyway, following the Argyle is a bit of a masochistic pursuit, as anyone in the Green Army will tell you, so we're pretty used to disappointment so I suppose this can go on the list of exes.

But in the course of following the soap-like twists and turns I've found a couple of Argyle fans who live in NJ, one not ten miles from where I live. Hopefully we'll meet up at Nevada Smith's in NYC next time Plymouth are on Setanta.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Knitting? Yes, really ...

I've done it ... taken the final step. I've at last managed to join Ravelry, a dynamic community of knitsters (yes ... really). Linda's been a member for a long time in Ravelry terms. Long enough to have a highly desirable real-name identity - Linda. Obvious, huh?

Me? I'm Hedonknits ... geddit???

Here are my credentials; the scarf my mum started to teach me how to knit. It has all sorts of stuff like button holes and increase and decrease stitches - don't ask me how ...

Linda's qualifications are rather better than mine. This is me in my lovely sweater. Sweater is the word because it's virtually unwearable indoors. It was much admired at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival I can tell you.

Of course, it's another big day for us!!!

Friends and family will know why.

It's the dawn of a brand new day!!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Nu Music

Latest acquisitions:
St-Germain-des-Prés-Café 9 : Another incredibly cool and sophisticated look at new European jazz, this edition easily lives up to the quality of the previous eight outings. It's hard to identify a standout track, because they all are ...

Hôtel Costes X : M. Pompougnac serves up the latest edition of lounge-music with a certain je ne sais quoi.

If you like this sort of stuff you can do no better than listen to internet radio station somafm, in particular, BeatBlender.

*See my hifi / media index here.